Case Digest: Torrecampo v. MWSS

G.R. No. 188296: May 30, 2011

BRGY. CAPTAIN BEDA TORRECAMPO, Petitioner, v. METROPOLITAN WATERWORKS AND SEWAGE SYSTEM, Respondents.

The Facts

Torrecampo's constituents approached him to report that personnel and heavy equipment from the DPWH entered a portion of their Barangay to implement the C-5 Road Extension Project over Lot Nos. 42-A-4, 42-A-6 and 42-A-4. Torrecampo Alleged that if the MWSS and the DPWH are allowed to continue and complete the C-5 Road Extension Project, 3 aqueducts of the MWSS supplying water to 8 million Metro Manila residents will be put at great risk. He Insisted that the RIPADA area is a better alternative to subject lots. Torrecampo thus filed the present petition.

This Court required respondents to comment. A status quo order was issued. The hearing regarding the urgent application for ex-parte temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction was set on 6 July 2009.

Atty. Villamor, Jr. contended that grave injustice and irreparable injury to would result should the petition be denied, the constitutional right to health would be violated, and that the petition was filed directly with the SC because lower courts are prohibited from issuing restraining orders and injunctions against government infrastructure projects pursuant to R.A 8975.

Asst. Solicitor General Panga, for respondent DPWH, asserts that petitioner's case does not fall under an exception and thus should have followed the principle of hierarchy of courts.
Atty. Agra for respondent MWSS finds as premature the filing of the petition for injunction as there is yet no road expansion project to be implemented, the project has yet to pass prior review by the MWSS; under the premises, there is yet no justiciable controversy.

The Court then required all parties to submit their memoranda, further, the status quo order was lifted since no grave injustice or irreparable injury would arise.

On 12 March 2009, MWSS issued Board Resolution No. 2009-052 and allowed DPWH to use the 60 Meter Right-of-Way for preliminary studies in the implementation of the C-5 Road Extension Project. DPWH entered the said properties of the MWSS on 30 June 2009.

ISSUE: Whether respondents should be enjoined from commencing with and implementing the C-5 Road Extension Project

HELD: The petition must fail.

Torrecampo seeks judicial review of a question of Executive policy, a matter outside this Court's jurisdiction. Here, the issue is dependent upon the wisdom, not legality, of a particular measure. Thus, Torrecampo wants this Court to determine whether the Tandang Sora area is a better alternative to the RIPADA area for the C-5 Road Extension Project. Such determination belongs to the Executive branch and cannot be touched upon by this Court.

The exception to this rule applies when there is grave abuse of discretion. In this case, however, the DPWH still has to conduct the proper study to determine whether a road can be safely constructed on land beneath which runs the aqueducts. Without such study, the MWSS, which owns the land, cannot decide whether to allow the DPWH to construct the road. Absent such DPWH study and MWSS decision, no grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction can be alleged against or attributed to respondents warranting the exercise of this Court's extraordinary certiorari power.

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